A Jewish settler walks at the Jewish settlement outpost of Adei Ad B in the West Bank.
(photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)
Likud and the Union of Right-wing Parties (URP) held their first coalition negotiations meeting on Friday, in which the latter demanded that the next government annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
“The meeting took place in a good atmosphere and centered on the guidelines and demands of both sides,” a joint statement from the sides read.
The negotiating teams plan to meet at the beginning of next week.
URP has asked for the next government to work to apply Israeli sovereignty to settlements in Judea and Samaria and to cancel the Disengagement Law, effectively allowing Israelis to live in northern Samaria, from which Israel officially evacuated in 2005.
The party also demanded Israeli action on the Temple Mount to prevent further harm to antiquities and to re-close the Mercy Gate to Judaism’s holiest site, which Palestinians violently broke through earlier this year.
URP was the last of the Knesset’s right-wing factions to begin negotiating with the Likud, due in part to fighting between the leaders of the two parties making up the bloc, Bezalel Smotrich of National Union and Rabbi Rafi Peretz of Bayit Yehudi, over what the party would strive for in the talks.
Part of the disagreements were over opposition in Bayit Yehudi to some of Smotrich’s demands, saying he was being overly aggressive.
But the parties came to an agreed-upon list of demands ahead of Friday’s meeting.
As URP had said in previous weeks, they will seek the Education Ministry for Peretz and the Justice Ministry for Smotrich, as well as the “override clause” allowing the Knesset to re-pass laws struck down by the Supreme Court. The party would also like to keep the deputy defense minister position, held by MK Eli Ben-Dahan in the last term.
The party also seeks third portfolio that would go to Peretz, either the Jerusalem or Diaspora ministries, or a combination of the two, or a new National Projects Ministry, that would include an authority for legalizing outposts, the Bedouin Authority, the National Service Authority, the Settlement Department, Conversion Authority and the Population, Immigration and Border Authority.
One of URP’s more controversial demands is for the government to set a budget of five million shekels for an effort to lower divorce rates in Israel, in part by creating a department of psychologists and social workers to offer subsidized couples therapy.
Another URP demand would be to privatize Army Radio.